While the rest of his high school classmates crammed for exams, Connor Leimer spent his senior year putting the finishing touches on his debut album, Postcard. He'd been writing music for years, mixing grooves and hooks into songs that blurred the boundaries between pop, rock, reggae and folk. Released months after his graduation, Postcard is a culmination of those high school days, introducing an on-the-rise singer/songwriter whose sound is as broad as his influences.
Leimer grew up in a small suburb just south of Kansas City. For years, he wrote most of his songs in his bedroom, kickstarting his career with The Telephone Takes — a live, acoustic al-bum that Leimer recorded on his iPhone 4 and released as a freshman — before attending a summer workshop called the Grammy Project in 2013. There, he met a number of musicians who, like Leimer, were young and eager to leave their mark. Months later, when he began re-cording Postcard at the Weights & Measures Soundlab studio in Kansas City, many of those new friends joined him. Jason Moss, New York’s on-the-rise mixing engineer, also lent his help, as did local singer Gracie Schram, 21 year-old producer Max Griffith, banjo player Fritz Hutchison (of the Kansas City band She's A Keeper) and a three-piece horn section of UMKC Music Conservatory graduates.
Postcard is a team effort, featuring collaborators from all corners of the Kansas City music community. Even so, Leimer wrote the songs from a personal place, reaching into his high school experience for a tracklist that veers between love songs, acoustic numbers, groove-based pop tunes and poignant tributes to home.
"This record represents a big chunk of my high school years," he explains. "It's everything that you face while growing up. All my friends came together and played on it, or helped me with artwork, or helped out with production. It's just a bunch of friends helping each other out."
It's also a peek into the diverse music collection of Leimer, who namechecks artists like Jake Bugg, Jack Johnson and Van Morrison as influences on his own writing.
"Postcard is very diverse," he adds. "There's reggae. There's singer-songwriter stuff. There's a folk song with fingerpicked guitar. There's acoustic pop, too, and alternative music. I'm a song-writer, so I try to write in different styles frequently and just focus on the song itself, and let it take me wherever it needs to go."
Those songs take Postcard to some unique places, from the harmony-heavy "Keep Knocking" — a folksy duet with Charlie Peacock protege Grace Schram — to the island-worthy "6 Days Ago," which matches Leimer's voice with swaggering blasts of brass. "Groove," the album's kickoff track, even rustles up the sharp dance-pop of Justin Timberlake. Together, these 10 songs paint the picture of an artist who's both young at heart and wise beyond his years.
Connor Leimer is going places. Postcard is just a souvenir from the first stop along the way.